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Tips of the week pull-ups

Tipps der Woche  Klimmzüge

Hyperextension of the neck: stop doing it

People don't think much about the health of their necks - at least not until they reach their forties or fifties and realize they've woken up with numbness and non-functioning muscles in their arms because they've suffered a herniated disc.

These problems have a lot to do with people sitting in front of the computer with their heads bent forward. You can exacerbate these problems by performing different exercises with your neck hyperextended when you should be keeping your neck in a neutral position.

Bad pull-ups: Hyperextension of the neck

Good pull-ups: No attempt to touch the bar with your chin.

Oh yes, you also can't do good pull-ups if you're wearing a baseball cap - at least not if you have it on backwards. This will also cause you to have to put your neck in a hyperextended position to get past the bar.

Tip: Build your mind-muscle connection

This isn't bro-science, this is real science. And here's why you need a good mind-muscle connection for optimal muscle growth

By Bret Contreras, Brad Schoenfeld, PhD


Arnold said resistance training is more than simply moving a weight from point A to point B. He said, "The weights are simply a means to an end. How well we contract the muscles is what training is all about."

To maximize muscle development, he talked about building a strong mind-muscle connection where he visualized the muscle being trained and felt it working through the full range of motion during each repetition. While this may sound like nonsense, scientific research has shown that the mind-muscle connection can significantly improve muscle recruitment.

The study

Scientists had a group of subjects perform two sets of lat pulldowns with only basic instructions. Then, after a rest period, the subjects performed a few more sets, but now they were given instructions on how to emphasize a contraction of the latissimus dorsi while de-emphasizing the biceps.

The result? Muscle activity in the latissimus, as determined by EMG measurements¸ was significantly higher in the sets performed with a better mind-muscle connection. In other words, simply focusing on the target muscle resulted in greater activation of that muscle.

How to develop the mind-muscle connection

Here's one way to apply this technique for optimal effect. Instead of thinking about where you feel a muscle stimulus, think about where you should feel the stimulus. In the lat pulldown example, you need to focus on pulling the weight down using the muscles of your back. Continue this thought process until you reach the bottom phase of the movement and then pull your shoulder blades together, where you should feel a contraction in your latissimus.

In the eccentric (negative) phase of the repetition, you are forcing your latissimus to resist the gravity of the weight so that the muscles are stretched in a controlled manner. As you approach the starting point of the movement, you should feel a full stretch in your latissimus and without hesitation, move on to the next repetition, repeating the process. Keeping your mental focus channeled in this way will shift most of the load to the target muscles of your back, maximizing stimulation.

Several studies for other muscle groups such as abs and gluteus all show the same thing - focused effort increases neural activation of the targeted muscles.

Don't be discouraged if it takes longer to establish a mental connection with some muscles than others. It is generally easier to establish a mental connection with the muscles of the arms and legs than it is with the muscles of the trunk. However, with practice and patience, you will develop a connection with all the muscles in your body.

Tip: Use instinctive training wisely

The fashionable term for this technique is autoregulation. Use it in the following ways

By Bret Contreras, Brad Schoenfeld, PhD


Instinctive training basically means that the training intensity should be based on how you feel during a given training session. So you use a combination of experience and instinct to guide your training sessions from day to day. This helps to address the fact that external influences such as sleep patterns, diet, stress and aches and pains can affect your ability to train at maximum intensity on a daily basis.

Recent research seems to support an instinctive approach to training. In scientific circles, this strategy is also referred to as autoregulatory training and scientists have evaluated its applicability in different flexible periodization models.

The study

In one study (McNamara et al., 2010), 16 novice exercisers were divided into two resistance training groups. All study participants performed the same training volume with the same weight schemes (10RM, 15RM, 20RM) twice a week. One group performed the training program in a prescribed manner, while the other group was allowed to choose when to perform their training sessions based on how they felt.

At the end of the 12-week training period, the subjects who were allowed to train instinctively had increased their leg press strength by 62 kilograms, while the increase in the control group was only 16 kilograms.

Instinctive training is best suited for advanced exercisers

Despite these impressive results for beginners, instinctive training is better suited to more advanced exercisers. You need to be familiar with your mental, physical and emotional state and how these factors affect your training capacity. This is only really possible with some training experience. A novice exerciser is not familiar enough with the nuances of training to accurately assess their daily capacity for maximum performance.

The downside

However, it is important to understand that instinctive training also has a downside. If you're not highly motivated to train, it can be tempting to give in to laziness. The flexible nature of this training strategy provides a ready-made excuse to make things easier, even when you're feeling good. Be honest with yourself. If you're the type of exerciser who needs a set program to train intensely on a regular basis, then a traditional periodization program is a better option.

On the other hand, you can take this to the other extreme and think that it's okay to always push yourself to the limit unless you've broken some bones. Remember that the body needs an adequate amount of rest to regenerate its resources, otherwise your progress will hit a wall at some point. So regardless of your subjective feelings, make sure you incorporate regular recovery cycles into your training program.

Tip: Perform cable pull-ups for excellent latissimus muscles

The cable pulley beats the dumbbell in this classic bodybuilding exercise

By Lee Boyce

Traditional dumbbell pull-ups only involve the latissimus in a small portion of the movement. Perform cable pull-ups on a reverse incline bench to maintain tension on the latissimus throughout the exercise.(

Many bodybuilders use pull-ups for the latissimus, but what effect does this exercise really have on the latissimus? If we look at the angle of force, we see a movement where the dumbbell is pulled down by gravity. When the exerciser performs the pull-over movement, the dumbbell is basically moving on a more horizontal plane, while the angle of force of the dumbbell is still straight down.

Since the latissimus is involved when the force angle simulates a vertical pulling motion, this means that the latissimus is only involved during a short portion of the movement in the first third of the range of motion before other muscles appear on the scene. You can get more bang for your buck by performing a different variation of this exercise.

Cable pullovers maintain tension on the latissimus due to an angle of force that engages the latissimus throughout the exercise. Use a bench and cable pulley instead of the dumbbell if you really want to challenge your latissimus.

Tip: Maximize your testo levels with two minerals

Most strength athletes lack two key minerals to support T production. Here's a solution to this problem

By Erick Avila


If you're deficient in zinc and magnesium, as many athletes are, your natural production of the primary muscle-building male hormone will drop. Here are the reasons why and a solution to the problem:


Numerous studies have shown that magnesium is positively associated with overall levels of the primary muscle-building male hormone. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is widespread because people do not consume enough magnesium in their diet.

Magnesium increases the bioavailability of this hormone, which is so important for muscle building. As part of the natural ageing process - or as a result of a low-protein diet - the concentration of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) increases and this globulin binds the muscle-building hormone, which is so important for us, so that it is not available to the body. However, one study was able to show that testo is bound to magnesium rather than SHBG, so that the free levels of this hormone - and thus also its anabolic effects - are maintained.

In another study, 30 men (both physically active and inactive) aged between 18 and 22 years were given 10 mg of magnesium per kilogram of body weight per day over a period of four weeks. Following this, the free levels of the primary male muscle-building hormone were measured. Interestingly, greater increases in hormone levels were observed in the subjects who participated in intensive training activities in conjunction with magnesium supplementation.

Recommended intake: If you wanted to replicate the exact dosages from the study cited above, you would need to consume 10 mg of magnesium per kilogram of body weight per day, which would equate to 1,000 mg of magnesium per day for a 100 kilogram serving. This is a very large amount. It is therefore advisable to use more sensible dosages.

The official recommended intake for magnesium is around 400 mg for an adult male. So for an increase in hormone production, you could experiment with 750 mg per day for a few weeks and see how you feel.

Food sources of magnesium:

  • Dark green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cabbage, chard)
  • Fish (halibut, salmon, mackerel, tuna, pollock)
  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseed)
  • Pulses (black beans, edamame, kidney beans)
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • raisins


Low levels of the primary male muscle-building hormone are usually associated with zinc deficiency, as androgen receptors are often altered in people suffering from zinc deficiency. Numerous studies have shown that increasing zinc intake increases levels of luteinizing hormone - a hormone that stimulates T production in the body. In addition, studies show that zinc is a potent aromatase inhibitor, which prevents the primary male muscle-building hormone from being converted into estrogen.

Recommended intake: 30 mg per day

Food sources of zinc:

  • Shellfish (oysters, crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Dairy products (Swiss cheese, yogurt, milk, cheddar cheese, mozzarella)
  • Pulses (baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, white beans, mung beans)
  • oat flakes
  • Nuts (cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, pecan nuts, walnuts)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, pine nuts, chia, linseed)

The supplement solution

If you don't feel like eating a lot of chard and mung beans, you can also use a ZMA product as an alternative.

Tip: Perform hand walkouts for stronger abs

You can do this challenging exercise anywhere.

By Ben Bruno


Hand walkouts are similar to ab wheel rollouts, but you don't need any equipment to perform them. The eccentric or lowering phase is much slower and more controlled than when using an ab wheel, so you'll be less likely to fumble the exercise execution. Walkouts are self-limiting in the sense that you can only go as far forward as you can control your core, which means you can't go beyond your capacity.

Hand Walkouts

As you don't need any equipment for this exercise, it's a great option for days when you can't make it to the gym. You can also do this exercise from your knees if the standing version is too heavy for you. Is the exercise not heavy enough? Then use a weight vest.


By Eric Cressey

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